Just a few weeks ago, before the New York Mets broke camp for the regular season, they released Kyle Farnsworth, only to re-sign him a few days later. Farnsworth got the call from Triple-A Las Vegas the day after the season started after closer Bobby Parnell went on the shelf. Now, just a few weeks after being in the minor leagues, Farnsworth will replace Jose Valverde as the Mets’ closer.
This turn of events pretty much sums up the volatility of the Mets’ bullpen. Not many teams in baseball would install a pitcher who started the season in the minors as their closer on April 20, but the Mets are not many teams.
Coming into the season, everyone expected the bullpen to be a problem area — a very mediocre pen from last season returned many of the main culprits and lost arguably its second-best pitcher in LaTroy Hawkins to free agency. Not surprisingly, after 17 games, the New York bullpen is in the bottom six in bullpen ERA, with an ugly 5.32 mark. Their .279 batting average against would be the worst in baseball were it not for the Houston Astros‘ pen.
To be fair to Farnsworth, he has pitched very well thus far and his fastball, which was topping out at 88 in Spring Training and was one of the main reasons he was initially cut, has regained some life and has been hitting 93-94 in recent games. Farnsworth, along with Carlos Torres and Gonzalez Germen, has been one of the consistent relievers in an otherwise shoddy pen.
Farnsworth replaces Valverde, who after a few good outings to start the season has become a homer machine, allowing four in his last seven innings. His fastball has been pretty flat allowing hitters to put together way too many good swings against him, so it’s no surprise the Mets are opting for a change.
This is now three closers in a 17-game span to open the season for the Amazins. Perhaps no one could’ve foreseen the Parnell injury on the horizon, but it seems somewhat fitting that two veteran relievers who were signed to minor-league deals and entered Spring Training as afterthoughts have gotten the first crack at replacing Parnell. It’s a pretty damning indictment of the lack of solid arms the Mets have at the major-league level.
Perhaps sometime in the near future, Rafael Montero, Jeff Walters, Jacob de Grom and Vic Black will be up to help the team, but in the mean time, for what seems like the umpteenth year in a row, the Mets’ bullpen is an incorrigible mess. The front office better hope that the pen doesn’t bury the team altogether before the reinforcements can arrive.
In the meantime, a player who hasn’t been an everyday closer since 2011 will get the next crack at closing out games for New York. It’d behoove the Mets to find a long-term solution sooner rather than later.